Police on war footing

Police are beginning to guard the National Technical University of Athens (formerly Polytechnic) and other possible targets of anarchist violence from today before Monday’s anniversary of the student uprising of November 17, 1973. Security is expected to be higher than usual due to the combination of a number of factors that could lead to protests more violent than usual. This will be the 30th anniversary of the uprising that helped bring down the junta of 1967-74, giving the commemoration added significance. The annual November 17 march from the Polytechnic to the US Embassy also coincides with America’s occupation of Iraq, which is likely to lead to even more fervent anti-American protests this year. Adding further tension is the fact that 19 suspected members of the November 17 terrorist gang, named after the day of the 1973 rebellion, are currently on trial in Korydallos Prison and supporters may take advantage of the mass demonstration to display anti-State fervor. Today a council of appeals court judges is expected to make public the indictment against five suspected members of another terrorist group, Revolutionary Popular Struggle (ELA). But the issue that has alarmed police the most is the wave of demonstrations and fire bombings tied to the detention of five anti-globalization activists, jailed after the anti-EU rioting in Thessaloniki on June 21. Five of the men have been on a hunger strike for more than a month. They are Carlos Martin Martinez and Fernando Perez Gorraiz of Spain, Briton Simon Chapman, Syrian Suleiman Dakduk and Greek Spyros Tsitsas. They deny charges of rioting and possession of fire bombs, and demand release on bail. They were moved from Thessaloniki to Athens’s Korydallos Prison hospital on Tuesday and one of them, Martinez, was later taken to the General State Hospital in the nearby district of Nikaia, due to his deteriorating condition. Police fear demonstrators might come from as far as Spain. On Wednesday, some 150 anarchists on motorcycles broke away from a demonstration that had taken place near Korydallos Prison and the Nikaia hospital and protested outside the apartment block in Kolonaki in which Prime Minister Costas Simitis lives. Simitis was reported to be at home at the time. Protesters have also staged sit-ins at radio stations in Iraklion, Patras and Ioannina. In Athens they set off fire bombs in late September and a week ago.